Social Media in the B2B Marketing Mix
Our previous post was primarily about why a B2B company should be on social media and why successful social media involves everyone and not just those on the marketing team. In this blog post, the focus is more on how it is feasible in the company to integrate social media into communication and everyday work and where the content actually comes from.
Communication via social media - Who is supposed to do that?
At the end of the day, social media is just another channel in communication. It is to be treated like the other media channels: There is a topic that needs to be publicized, be it an event, a new release or the latest customer project.
But communicating such messages only through the corporate channel doesn't always work. A company alone will not become known on social media, because as already mentioned in the last blog post:
People follow people, not companies.
This is the path we've started to take at priint: We had to first determine who is known to us and who already has a social network. Anyone who frequently gives presentations at events and is also a managing director has a certain reach. Knowing this, the choice was relatively easy, Horst Huber, our CEO & founder, started posting.
Where do I get my content from?
In the beginning, it is difficult to get started and find ideas regarding what to post or write about. A starting point can often be the company accounts. We at priint had already started to announce events or publish blog posts in the various networks with our respective priint company accounts. In addition, our newly revamped website went live with a substantial amount of new content. These two sources content sources, the website and the respective company profiles on social media channels, proved to be especially helpful.
Additionally, the various networks themselves, i.e. LinkedIn, Instagram, etc., can become a content source for great writing ideas. The easiest step, which you can integrate into your daily work routine, is to simply read other people's posts for just 5-10 minutes a day, react and comment. This allows everyone to not only be informed about current events and technologies, but also helps to gather their own ideas for their own posts. Otherwise, it also helps to simply talk to colleagues in person. (One or two conversations at the coffee machine have certainly helped me).
It's important to keep in mind that when you start, not everything will likely go smoothly right away: platforms have different logarithms, and you have to try out the trial & error principle.
Our key learnings on LinkedIn for posts:
- Commenting and responding to posts helps- especially in the beginning to build up a network and to get ideas for your own posts
- Sharing posts, even if you write one sentence about them, should really only be used when you don't have time. It's better than nothing, but don't hope to achieve a great reach or a super engagement rate.
- Scheduling time limits or short slots in your daily schedule helps, especially at the beginning, to deal with social media on a regular basis. You can write a post in 10 to 15 minutes, and then exchange with colleagues.
- Don't let other people do all the work. Of course, contributions can be saved or coordinated by marketing and social media management tools, for example. However, the actual content should always come strictly from the author and neither the wording nor the wit should be changed. Keyword: authenticity!
- After a conversation, a call or a livestream: network with the people directly. They still have you in mind and you still have them - the request is typically answered quickly.
My tips in using the tools for LinkedIn:
- Demonstrate to colleagues how to link companies and people.
- Consistently use the hashtags that fit your business, like ours #priint.
- Show colleagues how to use hashtags wisely and to edit posts if necessary. Explain that they can edit posts after they've been published (except for the links and images).
Things that apply to all networks:
Don't expect that just because there's a big network, you'll get tons of comments or likes on your posts right away. You have to be patient and check your statistics every now and then, post regularly and get a feel for what content you feel comfortable posting and what is interesting for others to read.
Over time, posts will begin to snowball with comments, inquiries or messages, but it doesn't happen overnight. Any requests should always be answered - however, it doesn't have to happen within a few seconds or minutes. Respond at your leisure or when you need a break. Spend five minutes on social media to clear your head and see what others have posted and commented about. It can help to refresh your mind, come up with great ideas and simply connect with others.
What if I have a lull in ideas or really just don't have time right now?
If you're struggling, talk to your marketing managers and ask for help. There are times when our marketing team provides Horst with links to particular topics or content as ideas for something to write about. There are also occasions when partner companies approach us with content that we are happy to share or where we respond as a team. The marketing team usually has a good overview of current events and can provide you with one or two ideas if you're struggling to get started or stay relevant. Of course, social media is not the number one priority in the daily work routine for employees (outside of those specifically in social media marketing), and there are certainly phases when there is simply not enough time to be consistent with it. Skipping a post every so often or not posting anything during vacation time is normal. Of course, social media marketing tools can help here if you do want to keep posting or if your strategy is designed to do so. Willing colleagues can also keep an eye on your posts and answer to comments if necessary. This should not be the standard, because as I said, authenticity is important, but especially in the case of specific questions, for example, someone should respond to comments in a reasonably timely manner.
Conclusion and Learnings at priint
Around mid-2020, much of our team started to use our private social media accounts more in addition to the company accounts. Since then, a lot has changed.
We know now that we need personality in the posts. An attempt to have posts revised by us and then saved showed us very quickly that this could not work. Additionally, simple event announcements via the private profiles also didn't work. Only when everyone added other aspects to the posts- such as one being particularly happy to see a partner company again and another was looking forward to a particular lecture at an upcoming event, did things change.
As expected, posts that were made my Horst definitely gained some traction, as he's our highly knowledgable and respected CEO with a relatively large network reach. But we knew we needed more reach to make things happen. I also started to post regularly. Of course, my network has also expanded over time and now I receive three times as many views on posts as I have contacts in my network.
From my perspective, it's imperative that colleagues follow suit and start reacting, commenting or liking priint's and fellow colleagues posts for at least 5 minutes a day.
We saw the first signs that our new social media strategy was working at events: Some visitors had already been exposed to us through social media and now wanted to talk in person. We subsequently added other people we had the pleasure of meeting at events to our network on social media. Not with the typical sales messages, but just so that priint remains on the mind of new and established contacts, and we can remain in touch.
The last couple of years has been a journey of trial-and-error experiences allowing us to gain a substantial amount of knowledge and insight.
At the last priint:day, Horst Huber and I used Instagram as a survey tool in the first discussion at the trainee camp. Participants were able to answer questions from the lecture live in an Instagram Story. Apart from the fact that this made the lecture more interactive, people who were not present at the event were also able to participate and we subsequently got more followers on the channel and as a result, our reach increased.
Additionally, Horst Huber is looking forward and has also asked his social network for suggestions on topics that we might include in the agenda for the upcoming priint:day next year. By involving others and using social media as a channel of communication, we can get direct feedback, discuss topics and remain as an online presence to new and existing contacts.